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Buckle up – September is car seat safety month; Car seats have come a long way baby!


This newspaper clipping shows Leonard Rivkin demonstrating the Strolee National Safety Car Seat for Children – the car seat that started the evolution of child safety seats as we know them today.

By Elean Gersack with newspaper clipping provided by Jason Rivkin

This month is national car seat safety month. With it comes the reminder to review car seat requirements and guidelines for growing infants and children to be sure they are properly restrained in moving vehicles.

A Colorado man happens to have played a major role in the evolution of car seats. Leonard Rivkin, the founder of Guys and Dolls Furniture who turned 85 years old on August 15, designed and patented the first child safe car seat for use in vehicles with bucket seats in 1963. To the masses, the seat was called the Strolee National Safety Car Seat for Children.

Prior to his invention, parents used canvas bags, which hung over the front passenger seat to secure babies in vehicles. At that time, front seats were designed to flip forward, so in a crash, infants could be catapulted into the windshield. Rivkin’s metal car seat frame was designed to stay in place by preventing the passenger seat from flipping. From there, infant and toddler seats have morphed into those used today in the back seat: rear-facing, forward-facing, and youth booster varieties. “It’s a good feeling to know that I was responsible for the safety of youngsters,” said Rivkin.

Rivkin’s grandson, Jason and his father, Bart, now run Guys and Dolls Furniture. The youngest Rivkin notes that the store no longer sells car seats, but takes pride in putting safety first with another important baby purchase – cribs. “It’s not even a question of importance – it’s an absolute must,” he replied when asked about the importance of using a child safety seat. “Speeds keep increasing and a fender bender 20 years ago is not like today,” he added.

Jason Rivkin suggests when buying a car seat to put safety first and avoid purchasing a used seat. He also recommends completing the manufacturer warranty card so caretakers can be notified of potential safety recalls.

From a great idea to state regulations …

Colorado law requires that:

Newborns through his/her first birthday and those weighing less than 20 pounds be secured in rear-facing car seat in the back seat of the vehicle.
Toddlers ages one, two and three be secured in a rear or forward-facing car seat, according to manufacturer age and weight requirements.
Children ages four, five, six and seven be secured properly in a forward-facing car seat or booster seat according to age and weight requirements.
Children ages eight to sixteen* be secured in a booster seat or lap and shoulder belt. *Safety experts recommend children shorter than 4’ 9” be secured in a booster seat (approximately age 12).

According to Douglas County Sheriff David Weaver, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 20,000 young lives are saved nationally by the use of child safety seats each year.

“Studies show that properly installed child safety seats reduce the likelihood of an infant (under one year old) dying in a vehicle accident by 71 percent, and toddlers (one to four years old) by 54 percent,” notes Weaver.

South Metro Fire and Rescue offers free car seat inspection services on the second Wednesday of each month in Lone Tree and the fourth Wednesday every month in Parker. Parents or guardians can call 720-989-2271 to make an appointment. For more information, visit and then click on “Car Seat Check/Inspection.”

To view the complete list of Colorado car seat laws, as well as safety advocate recommendations, visit and click on “Colorado CPS Law.”



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